Sliwa is the founder of the Guardian Angels, the group of beret-wearing quasi-vigilantes who roamed the streets in the '80s. He's also a radio and TV commentator.

Born and raised in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, Sliwa was working as an assistant night manager at a McDonald's in the Bronx when he launched the Guardian Angels in 1979. Drugs and poverty had turned New York into the crime capital of the nation, and the city's precarious financial position meant a shortage of cops on the streets. Sliwa took matters into his own hands, gathering groups of young men to patrol the city clad in red berets and black combat boots. His efforts almost immediately created controversy—critics decried the Angels as vigilantes, ill-trained to deal with the crime epidemic. But for much of the 1980s, the Angels were a regular sight on the city's streets and subways, and Sliwa became a news staple thanks to his regular press conferences highlighting the heroic acts supposedly performed by the Angels. (It would later turn out that many of the incidents had been fabricated to drum up publicity.)

Sliwa was an iconic presence in the city back in the day, doling out tough talk in his red beret, Guardian Angels t-shirt, and parachute pants. Curtis still dons the beret for the odd photo-op and he continues to officially oversee the organization, but it isn't nearly as relevant or active as it once was. These days Sliwa spends most of his time—and generates all of his income—from his career on radio and TV.

In 1992, Sliwa gained notoriety when he stepped into a yellow cab outside his East Village apartment and was shot at point-blank range by two men inside the car. He managed to escape by diving out of the window and survived, despite near-fatal injuries. Prosecutors later alleged that John A. "Junior" Gotti, the son of the now-deceased mob boss John Gotti, had orchestrated the crime, reportedly in retaliation for comments Sliwa made on the air about his father. But the prosecution had trouble making the case stick: Junior went to trial three times on charges of kidnapping and attempted murder and the jury deadlocked each time. Bizarrely, Ron Kuby, Sliwa's then-radio partner, ended up testifying on Gotti's behalf at one of the trials, leading Sliwa to brand him as "Judas" on the air. [Image via Getty]